Sunday, April 28, 2013

Prey Drive

[Editor's note: This post is excerpted from an earlier post (RISPCA vs Boston, Oct 14, 2012). It is included here as part of our series on animal welfare professionals and canine aggression.]
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No animal should be trusted because they are unpredictable entities.
Dr. E.J. Finocchio, RI SPCA

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Dr Finocchio holds a far more nuanced opinion of pit bulls than most SPCA directors, but his Oct 8th comment continues to trouble us. Then, while reading the Oct 11 East Boston Times-Free Press we noticed the following comment from a reader:
. . . since the media only focuses on what they hope are pit bull attacks we never get a fair representation of the reality of having at least 75 million dogs (carnivores) in the US.
Carnivores? The word carnivores evokes images of wolves stalking their prey, which loops back to Dr Finocchio's insinuation that domestic dogs retain a bit of feral unpredictability.

It's not uncommon to read accounts of pit bull attacks in which the dog's owner explains that his dog has a "high prey drive;" the term is sometimes offered as an explanation for the attack. The phrase is a euphemism indicating that the pit bull has aggressive tendencies. While some owners exhibit pride in their dog's "high prey drive," others can't bring themselves to admit that their pit bull is more aggressive than other breeds; they'd rather believe that all dogs still retain a bit of canis lupis. Dr Finocchio and millions of others  may have succumbed to this belief because we've become accustomed to the havoc of fighting breeds living in our midst.

Fortunately we have someone with the good sense of Alexandra Semyonova, who reminds us (in Myth 29) that the domestic dog is not a naturally aggressive species. Dr Finocchio may choose to reconsider his remarks after reading Ms Semyonova.

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Statistics in SRUV are from Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here. Also including information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.


Google News: Today's pit bull attacks